Helping Heathen Republican with Republican Obstruction
12:00:50 am, by Burr Deming , 1282 words
Categories: News, On the web, Life
Helping Heathen Republican with Republican Obstruction
Most casual readers don't recognize just how hard it can be to maintain a blog site.
Some folks, like our friend, Jack Jodell, spend time supporting other blogs with comments and private messages of encouragement. In fact, we who blog usually call each other by our first names, as a natural form of friendly familiarity. For example, the Heathen Republican once contributed a dissenting view to our site. I usually refer to the Heathen Republican as Heathen. It just comes naturally. Those who like me call me Burr.
Heathen Republican calls me Mr. Deming. A few others, as I understand it, know me Mr. Unbalanced. Such is life.
The survival rate of blogs is low. A survey from a few years ago by Technorati showed that about 95% of all blogs are abandoned within 4 months.
So our fellow blogger, the Heathen Republican (may I call you Heathen?), is to be congratulated for a rigorous, daily, continuous effort, even if faltering a bit when it comes to facts. As a successful presence on the internet, Heathen is a very busy individual, having little time to perform the drudgery of fact checking.
Recently he critiqued someone who sent to him a chart demonstrating a dramatic increase in procedural blocking tactics performed by Republicans in the United States Senate. It is a serious problem. In the old days, conservatives only used the tactic for things they found especially odious, like voting rights for black folks and open housing. That was in the days of Jim Crow laws.
But now Republicans pretty much routinely filibuster or otherwise block pretty much everything, even things they support. The idea is to slow down and stop the functioning of government. Headlines that, in the old days, would have read "Conservatives Tie Up the Senate" now read "Senate Fails to Legislate". So conservatives manage to sabotage without paying a political penalty. How can voters get irritated with something they don't know about?
So someone emailed to Heathen (may I call you Heath?) a chart showing how the number of filibusters, the main obstructionist tool, increased as soon as Republicans lost the US Senate in the election of 2006. The number of cloture motions that were needed more than doubled.
Heath wrote an entire article on how his correspondent failed miserably at proving his point. It seems the researcher did not show how the Congress right after that performed. It was a case of one who declines to research critiquing one who researches. We get a lot of that in most any working group: churches, Rotary Clubs, political groups, businesses, blogs. Those-who-don't stand back and criticize those-who-do. "Hey. You missed a spot." To wit:
Of course, his source did nothing to prove his point since the author was documenting the record number of filibusters under George W. Bush, not Obama, but that didn’t stop him from maintaining his assertion of obstruction.
Yeah, he actually said that. Obama had not even been elected in 2006, so how could anyone accuse Republicans of obstructionism? Now, if the poor fellow self-tasked with looking stuff up had just done his homework and surveyed the next Congress. (Missed a spot)
On Saturday, I called Heath on it in my own brief review of blogs. "Oh those pesky facts. Those filibusters in 2007 and 2008 weren't against President Bush. Republicans tied up the Senate against the Democratic majority beginning when Democrats took over the Senate in 2006. Oops."
Nobody likes a sniping critic, not even a sniping critic. So our pal Heath responded.
Our mutual friend Mr Myste decided to paste your filibuster comment over at The Heathen Republican, so it's only appropriate that I share my rebuttal with you, Mr Deming.
Yes, I'm aware of Mr Deming's drive-by shots. Too bad he won't lower himself to our level and comment directly.
If you look at the first chart above, he's referring to the 110th congress which served from 2007-2008 (following the Democratic wins in the 2006 election). That has a very high column painted red to represent the large number of filibusters initiated by Republicans.
In other words, while Mr Deming insinuates that I am ignoring "pesky facts", in fact my chart clearly shows that Republicans did obstruct the new Democrats. No dispute. Oops.
What the data do not show, however, is Republicans obstructing President Obama in the 111th congress.
I dunno. I thought my comment was pretty direct. Pesky, but direct.
The old joke is that we don't criticize a talking dog for what he says, but rather we admire that he talks at all. And we should temper any criticism for Heath's inability to find the time to look up simple items with an appreciation that he posts at all. In point of fact, he is an engaging and entertaining proponent of conservatism. He does much better at navigating that philosophy than most. A really good writer.
So let's help him out, shall we? The United States Senate keeps track of some statistical data. Go ahead, Heath. Take a chance and click.
The last Congress that was ruled by Republicans, the 2005-2006 Congress, had 68 cloture motions compared to 139 in the next Congress, the one with a Democratic majority. But we already knew that, didn't we?
The number of actual cloture votes went from 54 in the Republican Senate to 112 in the Democratic one. But knew that as well, didn't we? A filibustering lot, these Republicans, once they lose their majority.
The proportion of successful motions to proceed actually went down from one to the other, although the raw number went up, 34 up to 61. The number of votes that failed, not getting the needed 60 votes to conduct the business of the Senate, went up even more. So Republicans succeeded in tying everything up.
But Heath's criticism was that the poor bedeviled researcher didn't do quite enough homework. And Heath was very busy on the day he did his own writing. So let's go to the publicly accessible data from the Senate that Heath points out was not provided.
Wow. Turns out Republican obstructionism pretty much matched their level from the session before.
That high number of 139 cloture motions stayed high, at 136.
The number of actual motions that came to a vote dropped a little but not much, It remained a very high 91, dropping from 112. It had been a normal 54 before Republicans were rejected at the polls in 2006.
The number of cloture votes that actually succeeded, happily, went up by a couple. From 61 to 63. On the others, Republicans were able to keep the Senate all tied up.
Here's an observation from Steve Benen:
Consider this tidbit: cloture was invoked 63 times in 2009 and 2010, which isn’t just the most ever, it’s more than the sum total of instances from 1919 through 1982. That’s not a typo.
Now if Heath (may I call you H?) can get up the energy to click another link, we all might find instructive the sorts of things Republicans were trying to block from even coming to a vote. The last three were the START treaty to increase the nuclear security of the nation, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act to keep the lights on and the doors open, and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
If you'll check a little further down, Republicans were able to block from getting to a majority vote the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. That was to provide health care to the courageous heroes who inhaled toxic stuff while rescuing people during the 9/11 attacks. Kind of makes you proud, doesn't it? Caring for those folks passed later, when the next Republican effort against it failed and the majority got to vote.
No need to thank me, Heathen Republican. Glad to help.